Review: Moon Knight S01 Ep. 1 ‘The Goldfish Problem’
by Olly MacNamee
(+++ WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Moon Knight S01 Ep. 1 ‘The Goldfish Problem’ +++)
Confusion abounds in the first episode of Moon Knight as we are placed firmly into the perspective of one Steven Grant, aka Marc Spector, aka Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac). A man who believes he is a humble gift shop assistant at London’s world-famous Natural History Museum, but guess what? He isn’t really. With plenty of Egyptian iconography littering this debut instalment, Moon Knight’s background is well signposted by the creative team behind this latest Marvel Studios/Disney + offering.
Because of this confusion, Steven blanks out at the most inopportune times, only to become conscious again after the action has occurred. An interesting way the show’s producers use to delay the reveal of the titular hero until the very end of the episode. It works well, if not frustrating many viewers I would imagine. But, it all adds to the mystery, and the build up to the revelation of Moon Knight.
As well as Egyptian artefacts and iconography, that even litters his goldfish’s bowl, there are mirrors. Lots of mirrors. Symbolically significant mirror representing his particular mental disorder, dissociative identity disorder. And so these mirrors often reflect Marc Spector. It’s all well thought out and well executed unlike the world-wide cult of Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) who believes he’s doing God’s work. It’s just that the god he is working for is Ahmet, quite the nasty piece of work who, as is explained, would rather take out people before they’ve even committed a crime. Even when one such person is a little old lady who takes her chances and comes up with a busted flush. But, Harrow comes in the footsteps of many a cult leader of the past and in this episode, at least, there’s not much to differentiate him from any number of these from film and TV of the past.
By the end of the debut episode while Moon Knight is finally revealed, but Steven’s dissociative identity disorder will, I have no doubt, still feature heavily in future episodes. After all, it is Moon Knight’s USP. But, to get here there are some scenes of requisite action included as Steven finds himself in an undisclosed European country and on the run from Harrow’s goons in a funky looking cup cake delivery truck. A chase scene through some very picturesque alpine scenery with Steven drifting in and out of control of his body here and her along the way. But, when he does wake up in charge, it’s usually in the centre of a rather bloody takedown.
Visually, other than the Egyptian dressings, it’s a familiar Marvel Studios mise-en-scène and after over a decade of such films, there isn’t anything much that stands out as visually, or symbolically interesting. Nothing to make it stand out from the crowd as yet.
Overall, the inventiveness is limited to the way it positions the viewer, but I can see this becoming a rather tired trope if used over and over again in future episodes. But, now that Moon Knight has been revealed, here’s hoping we get to see more of him in action and something more to the plot than taking out yet another run-of-the-mill charismatic cult leader over the number of requisite episodes ordered.
Moon Knight S01 Ep.1 can be streamed now on Disney + with new episodes debuting every Wednesday.